I think this picture of Mo Speights shows how much fun Thursday night was.
It may have taken five games, but OKC vs. Golden State may have finally turned into the series everyone was waiting for.
The Warriors certainly weren’t the dominant team that won 73-regular season games, and they may need more to win a game in Oklahoma City, but they outlasted the Thunder and showed an impressive level of determination.
How hard the Thunder have made the Warriors work has been incredible to watch. Every so often, too often in Game 5, the Thunder will lapse and lose Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, but those moments turned into small cuts rather than gaping wounds. The Thunder are still hounding players on the perimeter, getting their incredible length in every passing lane and doing a great job of disrupting the Warriors at the rim.
The Thunder definitely didn’t play their best game Thursday night and still very nearly came away with a win. Steven Adams picked up two early fouls and OKC never got back to its normal rotation and Russell Westbrook struggled, finishing 11-28 from the floor and turning in a -9 on the night. Kevin Durant nearly carried the Thunder by himself, scoring 40 points and continuing to play elite defense, but Golden State did enough to hold him off.
Steph Curry definitely looked better back in the Bay Area, but there were several moments where his limits remained visible. He was still hesitant to take the Thunder’s bigs off the dribble and needed a vast amount of space to do so when he finally seized the opportunities. Durant managed to strip him of the ball at one point when Curry tried and failed to find his burst, and any time the Warriors crimp their spacing just a little bit the Thunder can swarm him and force turnovers.
He needed to be the Warriors’ best player and definitely turned in a MVP-level performance, finishing with 31 points, six assists, seven rebounds and five steals. His biggest play came late when the Warriors’ needed it most, when, in an absolutely phenomenal sequence, he stripped Durant, pulled back to set up a possession and then split two defenders for pretty lay-up.
Golden State also got tremendous contributions from Andrew Bogut and Marreese Speights. Bogut, as Kerr had asked in recent days, managed to stay out of foul trouble and brought his usual brand of great passing and elite rim protection. Speights scored 14 huge points in just nine minutes and managed to draw not one but two offensive fouls on Durant.
Game 6 is now very, very necessary. There will be obvious pressure on both teams; the Thunder to close the series at home and the Warriors to continue this magical season. Bring on Saturday night.